Starting next month, Coursera, the education platform that forms partnerships with top universities and organizations worldwide to offer courses online, is teaming up with IBM to develop an online course to teach programming for the Internet of things (IoT).
The course explores what an Internet of things solution is and takes the developer through the steps required to create an IoT solution using a popular device, the Raspberry Pi, and a cloud-based platform, IBM’s Bluemix platform-as-a-service technology, Kevin Turner, program director of Innovation Strategy for the IoT Developer Ecosystem at IBM, said in a blog post.
As innovations continue to enable more devices to connect, collect and send data to the cloud, new programming constructs–as well as more programmers–are required to help keep pace with the explosion of data and apps. New, composable models for the development and deployment of applications are required to meet rapid advances in the collection and analysis of IoT data. From this analysis, companies can make well-advised decisions with the insight gained from structured and unstructured data.
The course focuses on capturing data from trusted devices and getting the data to the cloud platform where it can be exploited by the many services available on a typical cloud platform, Turner said. “The course will teach you how to use Node-RED, a rapid application development environment, on both the device and the cloud,” he said. “You will then use Node-RED to create an Internet of things solution by leveraging pre-built componentry that rapidly enables ‘things’ to ‘talk’ to each other, along with lower-level APIs to manipulate and analyze the data sent by the device. Along the way, we will explore options for ensuring your solution makes the best use of the information captured.”
Node-RED is a visual tool for wiring the Internet of things. Built by IBM Emerging Technologies, Node-RED is a tool for wiring together hardware devices, APIs and online services in new and interesting ways, a description on the product’s Website reads.
To do the programming assignments, students can use any Raspberry Pi device with a 40-pin header. The course also requires the Sense HAT extension board.
The course will be taught by Brian Innes, a developer advocate in the IBM for Watson Internet of Things unit, and Yianna Papadakis Kantos, a curriculum architect and instructional designer with a focus on the lifecycle development process, continuous engineering and the Internet of things, in the Watson IoT unit.
IBM, Coursera Team Up on IoT Developer Course
Turner stated that IoT is enabled by technological innovations around cloud and analytics, cheap sensors and devices, and a mature and robust network infrastructure to enable connectivity at an unprecedented scale.
“The result is an explosion in the numbers of connected devices in the physical world sending data to the cloud, to enable novel customer experiences, business insights, and transformative business models that reshape whole industries,” he noted.
Moreover, the IoT developers behind this transformation are a unique breed, Turner added.
“In fact, they span so many areas of expertise that calling them ‘developers’ is like referring to Mozart as a musical director,” he said.
Turner cited a 2015 Evans Data survey that indicated that 78 percent of IoT developers create IoT solutions as their primary source of income.
“The same study also shows that they hold higher leadership positions in their company than traditional developers,” he said. “Currently those positions are filled by more seasoned developers with a cross-discipline perspective, and many of them were trained to think of hardware and software as an intimately entangled discipline.”
As more seasoned developers are making a play for IoT, the demand for new developers is constant. IBM and Coursera are trying to answer the call with this new course to let people whet their appetites for developing IoT apps.
“There is no question that cross-discipline skills are already in demand, and as a result a new generation of developers is being urgently trained in multiple skill areas and tools to fill the growing demand for ‘connected solutions’ in the coming months and years,” Turner said.